Construction could begin before Christmas on a massive new expansion that will add three ice rinks and two dry-floor arenas to the Langley Events Centre.
Langley Township Mayor Eric Woodward unveiled designs for the project on Tuesday night, flanked by most of the Township council, representatives of local youth sports organizations, and Langley East MLA Megan Dykeman and Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang.
The project has a budget envelope of $149 million, and will be built just to the north of Building B, the field house and gym facility.
“With the leadership of this new council, we are committed to building for the future,” Woodward said.
He emphasized that it was past time to move forward and build new facilities that will meet the needs of Langley’s booming population, but also acknowledged past mayors and councils that had built the first phases of the LEC and assembled much of the land around it, making the current project possible.
The project would be a “generational step forward,” Woodward said.
The new arena building will have underground parking, a first on the site. Above that will sit three ice rinks, one with a sizable stadium seating area. Above the two smaller rinks will be a pair of dry floor arenas, suitable for lacrosse and ball hockey.
Creating multiple dry floor and ice rinks is aimed at solving the problem of both the increase in youth sports generally, but also the fact that dry floor sports and ice sports are increasingly overlapping.
Kang and Dykeman both mentioned how the province’s $1 billion Growing Communities Fund was one reason the project was moving forward as fast as it was. Langley Township’s share of the fund was $24.3 million, and the money came with minimal strings attached.
Woodward agreed that it allowed the Township to get moving fast on designing the building.
“It didn’t require an application,” unlike many other funding sources from higher levels of government, he noted.
Leaders from Langley Minor Hockey, Langley Girls Hockey, Langley Minor Lacrosse, and Valley Ball Hockey all expressed enthusiasm for getting more rinks and more playing and practice time for their players.
After the speeches, artist’s renderings and floor plans of the new facility were unveiled.
Danny Franco, the president of Langley Minor Hockey, checked out the size of offices and storage space that will be used by local sports clubs once the building is finished.
“It’s huge,” he said, as right now “we’re in a bunker.”
Langley Minor Hockey has long since outgrown the space they use for offices at the George Preston Recreation Centre, which was originally built in the 1970s.
Mike Parkinson, Langley Minor Hockey’s vice president, said it will allow for a more professional setting when they meet with other associations, or have their own board meetings.
The stacked construction, with the two dry floors on top of two of the ice rinks, will be a first for the region, and the country.
“There actually aren’t any,” said Jason Winslade, the Township’s manager of municipal administration. “It’s a unique facility for Canada.”
Woodward said that it’s possible construction could start as early as this year, just before Christmas. If not then, he expects shovels to go into the ground early in the new year.
Langley Township has plans to continue developing the lands it owns north of the current LEC. It opened a new soccer stadium to the south already this year, and future possibilities could include a performing arts space, which was promised co-funding from the federal government.